30 Psychological Tricks That “Blew People’s Minds” When They First Learned Them
The subconscious mind causes us to behave in ways we don’t even realize. We might find ourselves doing something without thinking about it, and we don’t stop to ask ourselves why, either. The inner psyche is deep and complex but that doesn’t mean it can’t be shaped with some clever hacks.
Recently, a Reddit user asked everyone to share the psychological tricks that blew their mind when they first heard them. Bored Panda has collected the finest ones to help you become a master of the mind.
From ones to help you realize yourself more fully, to ones that will help you to get what you want from others, there are lots of valuable tips here. And some funnier ones too! See what you can learn and check out our other collections here and here too!
If someone makes a derogatory joke about you in a group setting, play dumb and ask them to explain. It’s not funny the second time and they will look like an AH
Bored Panda spoke with Dr. Tara Well, a professor of psychology and creator of the 'Mirror Meditation' technique. This mindful practice is based on the neuroscience of 'mirroring' and her psychological research on stress-management, self-compassion, and emotional resilience. The technique teaches people how to increase self-awareness, confidence and personal presence; manage stress and emotions; and develop self-compassion.
If you’re interested in learning how to use mirrors and reflections for your own psychological benefit, you should visit her website and pre-order her upcoming book on Mirror Meditation. She’s always active on Psychology Today, so be sure to read more of her published writings there too.
Dr. Well told Bored Panda more about her unique technique and experience in psychological studies. She said, “As a psychology professor, I study mirrors and reflections. People often tell me that they hate looking in the mirror because they can make them feel self-conscious.”
As everyone has a mirror of some sort, she goes on to explain the psychological effects of them. She said, “We often use the mirror to check out how we look to others–as in morning grooming rituals and the stealth ‘spinach check’. But if you focus too much on how others view you, you may worry that they are judging you."
I taught teenagers in a really tough London school. A colleague taught me a brilliant trick to get a kid to calm down when they were angry:
Look them calmly in the eye and say “what do you want to happen next?”
Most of the time they were so caught up in emotion they hadn’t thought about the consequences of their dickery. As soon as you prod them to think about consequences, most of them would calm down straight away.
Minimizing. If you feel like something is a really big chore or you just can't get yourself to get up and go do something, minimize it to a small insignificant part. Instead of doing all the garden work, say you're just going to take the tools out so when you want to work you can. 90% of the time once you're up and doing the small thing, the big bad chore doesn't seem so bad now and you end up doing it.
So, how can we get out of this uncomfortable state? She continued, “First, realize you have a choice on where you put your attention. Then, deliberately shift your focus. Shift your attention off yourself and onto others.”
“For instance, if you are giving a presentation, focus your attention on your audience and build rapport with them. Don’t focus on yourself and how nervous you are or how you may look to them. Focus your attention outward instead.”
"In a conversation in which you start to feel uncomfortably self-conscious, shift the focus onto the other person by asking them a question and noticing how they are feeling instead," she explained. "When we feel anxious, we tend to focus on ourselves, which makes us even more nervous. Remember to volley the attention back and forth in conversation—don’t hold onto the ball of self-consciousness."
Dr. Well's advice goes to show that it's all in our head and we can make a conscious decision about our behavior, so long as we keep this advice with us.
At a garage sale, my father wanted $5 for a desk. It sat all day. Eventually, he wrote $10, and $20 above the $5 and crossed them out making it look like he'd dropped the price twice. It was gone in under 30 minutes.
If you don’t look a toddler in the eyes after it falls or hurts itself and just act like all is fine, there’s a good chance they won’t cry
"In a conversation in which you start to feel uncomfortably self-conscious, shift the focus onto the other person by asking them an interested question and noticing how they are feeling instead," she explained. "When we feel anxious, we tend to focus on ourselves, which makes us even more nervous. Remember to volley the attention back and forth in conversation—don’t hold onto the ball of self-consciousness."
If you ask someone to move over to an arbitrary different location to talk (could be 5 feet away) they are much more likely to listen to you and follow instructions. (One of my tricks as an elementary school teacher.)
If you want to get more information out of someone, just let them speak. There are times in a conversation that things stop. Most people want to fill this themselves, but don't. Let the other person do it.
This is especially useful if you think the person and their story is full of shit.
By walking with your head and eyes forward like you’re deliberately going somewhere, people will move out of your way. I first tried this in a crowed mall when I was 14 and was blown away. I felt so powerful at 14 lol.
If you look and sound like you know what you are doing, odds are a fair amount of people will think you know what you are doing.
Even if you don't
Working as a waitress, if I noticed a customer was getting particularly impatient and it looked like they were going to be rude to me when I went over, when I would take the food over and before they got the chance to speak I’d say something like ‘So sorry for the wait, thanks for being so lovely about it!’
It seemed to catch them off guard and paint them as the ‘nice guy’ in my eyes, and more often than not their expression would change from pissed off to surprised, then they’d say something like ‘oh no problem it’s okay’ so they could keep being the nice guy and feel good about themselves and I avoid a chewing out.
i tend to procrastinate. a lot.
I've given myself this rule where i will internally count down from whatever number and when i hit zero i have to do the thing or else.
example: in the shower, depressed, letting the water run over me. i dont wanna get out but I'm wasting water.
begin counting down from 30. 29. 28. 27... 3. 2 1. put hand on dial and turn it off without any thought. the only thought is "zero"
i do this for lots of things
If a toddler does something to get your attention, do the same.
Once my nephew dropped on the floor and started having a tantrum by shouting and kicking.
I did the same. He looked at me shocked and confused, got up and walked away lol
People who feel guilty will over explain to justify their actions.
I do insurance claims. I don't need to know why you backed into a pole, I don't care. It's covered, all I need is the incident and damage description. But man some people feel so bad about it, they won't stop going on about how the sun was in their eyes but they should have looked better and they can't believe it happened, and they have a reversing camera and sensors which were supposed to help but they didn't and they're so angry with themselves and it's a new car and they can't believe they've done this.
You know how small yappy dogs and tiny mice running around are terrifying despite us logically being much larger? Well in Kendo there is the "disarming scream" where you run at your opponent with a loud scream. When I've attempted doing my kendo practise, despite warning the person of what I'm about to do they inevitably drop the sword and can't take it. I've used this trick even without my old bamboo practise sword. Ie I ran at a violent mugger who was beating a young student. I'm a small woman but the guy still ran off. I've also used this trick to literally throw a guy more than twice my size (don't recommend unless you know how to do a judo throw)
So basically, if you don't have an alternative, loud scream coinciding with running at your opponent works very well at disarming someone.
If you find yourself overthinking, stare at a fixated point. To fetch memories, your eyes need to move. So if you’re staring at a singular point, it’s very difficult to overthink.
Smile as soon as you first see people (you want to like you) as you greet them, like hey buddy how you doin ?! And look genuinley happy to see them... dont matter whether its girls, guys, young, old.. itll make them excited to see you like every time i dont get it but theres phsycology to it and it actually changed my life
Talking myself to sleep. I’ll think things like, “my bed is sooooo comfortable. Sleeping is soooo easy. I love sleeping. Sleeping is great.” Instead of agonizing over why I can’t sleep. Positively reinforcing myself is my new lullaby lmao
My first workplace trick that I still use regularly: people will procrastinate with their own work, but drop everything to quickly "correct" someone else's work.
Example: Bill needs to provide a paragraph of text to go in your company's brochure. He's been dragging his feet forever and it's the last thing you're waiting on but he keeps putting it off. Go to where his paragraph should be and write a shitty version of what he's supposed to do. Don't invest more than ten seconds. "We do widget services. We are good at it. Our services are good for your widget needs." Send it to Bill saying "hey I filled in the last paragraph about widget services; can you check and make sure it meets your criteria, and I'll send it along to the boss for approval?" You'll have Bill's polished, fully composed text in about ten minutes.
"The Wally Reflector"
Thanks to Dilbert-man Scott Adams, I learned the Wally Reflector at a young age. It's very simple. If someone tries to pawn their work off on you, ask them to do something for you first related to said task. 9 times out of 10 they'll leave and try to find someone else.
"Hey can you finish this report for me? I'm going on vacation and want to leave a little early to beat traffic to the airport."
"Sure, I'd love to help! But, could you possibly send me a quick email with a bulletpoint list of what needs to be in the report, just so I don't miss anything?"
"Uhhhh, on second thought..."
Nod and agree and move the fuck on.
If someone with a strong/difficult personality is demanding you do/try ____, (and you don’t want to but know they’ll argue) just agree and move the fuck on. No reason to argue lol makes it so much more simple.
Ie: Barb: You really need to use this brand of diapers. They’re the best. I’ve had 22 kids
Me: Oh awesome thanks for the tip!
End of story. They never ask again, they just want to talk. To put their input in ANYTHING lol.
A therapist told me that anger is a secondary emotion and should be treated like a traffic light, you should stop at yellow before jumping to red. Ask yourself what was the first thing come to your mind triggered you is it being ignored, feeling trapped, unheard, insecure etc... Because your first thought is what you actually feel your anger comes last.
I'm a calm natured person rarely get angry, this advice helped me to identify my weaknesses and anxiety. You can apply this to any emotion not just anger.
Whenever my toddler refuses to do something, I start doing it. Then they get all angry cause they wanna do it.
Don't know what to say but want to keep the conversation going?
Repeat the last phrase of the last thing the person said as a question.
Eg: As a question?
Yes. As a question. Raise your voice so it's clear that you want them to go on.
Cunningham's Law, the best way to get an answer on the internet is to post the question with a misspelling, anal people will be drawn to correct and mock you and one will invariably have the answer you're looking for.
Give young kids the illusion they are making a decision to do something that you really want them to do.
Kid won’t eat their carrots and wants dessert now? You say to them do you want to eat your carrots first and then dessert? Or would you like to save your dessert for tomorrow and eat your carrots now?
When you want/need something from someone, ask them for help with it. Rather than "hey can you do this for me?", say "hey can you help me with this?" People are more inclined to be helpful than to just take on the task for you
You can give a person talking on their phone an object and they will most likely take it because they are focused on the call. I regularly hand people empty plates, most of the time they just keep talking and don't notice what I'm doing.
Whenever I’m feeling nervous or anxious about something I just tell myself how excited I am to do it and trick myself into actually calming down. Works well for presentations
If you want someone to like you, ask them questions about themselves.
If you want someone to be nicer to you, compliment them behind their back. If they find out they'll perceive you as nicer as most people say bad things behind other's backs. Either way if they act shitty towards you they seem like the bad guy, and because its behind their back it doesn't look like ass-kissing
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